Updated -- Woman has been found alive.
Updated -- Woman was found about noon alive.
Original story -- Search and rescue personnel from the Pickens and Gilmer sheriff’s offices, EMS, fire crews and the DNR are continuing a search for a Gilmer woman last seen at the scenic overlook on the southbound lanes of Highway 515 Sunday night.
The search for the woman is continuing today with more reinforcements from state groups and neighboring counties joining the hunt for Patricia Burger, 54. [see details from sheriff's Facebook page] More than 25 searchers from local agencies are in the Whitestone area checking the woods and abandoned buildings there, along with numerous professional search and rescuers from elsewhere.
April Killian, head of criminal investigations for the Pickens sheriff, said steep terrain, heat and heavy rains had slowed the search.
“It’s tough on us, but God bless her,” she said. “We have water and supplies.”
Killian said they hope to complete “line searches” within a five-mile radius. Line searches are simply where officers line up and walk in a coordinated fashion, assuring “we don’t miss anything,” Killian said. K-9 handlers and search dogs have also been used but with no luck.
Killian said they are concentrating on an area where they spotted bare footprints yesterday.
Killian said all evidence indicates that Burger is still in the area. She did not have her cell phone or purse with her when last seen.
In an unusual incident, she was being escorted to the scenic park by an East Ellijay police officer after an argument with her husband. She had arranged to meet a family member from Pickens County in the parking area. No charges were filed with the incident.
Killian said the officer had waited with her and Burger said she needed to use the restroom. There are no restrooms at the highway location, so the officer asked her to wait. She waited a while longer and then said she really had to go. She told the officer she was going into the bushes and he got back into the car to give her some additional privacy. That was the last she was seen.
Killian said her brother showed up a few minutes later and the officer said she was going to the bathroom. The family member and officer talked a while, with the family member saying she would probably come back to the car when she got ready. She was officially declared missing later that evening when she did not return.
Officers did a quick search that night and began the full search Monday morning.